Why you shouldn’t ignore product sampling as a marketing tactic

Mark Atkinson, General Manager, Residential Distribution - Ovato

In an era where digital marketing dominates the headlines, it’s easy to overlook print as a powerful marketing tool. But rather than leaving print in the dust, digitisation has strengthened the abilities and reach of traditional marketing, including direct tactics like letterbox samples.

New analytics tools and transactional data allow businesses to access more information about their audience than ever before, and tailor their outreach to connect with more relevant customers. And with 56 per cent of audiences identifying print as the most trustworthy type of marketing, product sampling is an essential tool for connecting with your audience.

Building a relevant connection

Marketing is experiential and emotional. Audiences place more value in memories and moments than products. Long gone are the days of faceless enterprises demanding loyalty with no return – the businesses of today need to be appealing, relatable and understanding. When 85 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with a business that has professionally printed materials, including signs, flyers or banners, the power of print to bridge that gap shouldn’t be underestimated.

Alongside a desire to build an emotional connection, audiences are also becoming more discerning. Many millennials rank authenticity over content, and there’s a rising concern about the pervasiveness and irrelevance of marketing. In fact, 91 per cent of people say that ads are more intrusive today than two to three years ago, so it’s important for businesses to not only to differentiate themselves, but become more direct in their marketing efforts. Relevant product sampling powered by key data sets has the ability to create the value that modern audiences look for.

Using the right data

Sampling is hard to get right. A pack of cereal handed out at public train stations might give a product high visibility for a day but measuring the return on investment is difficult. With specific data, the sampling method used can be tailored to your audience and their interests.

Data gathered from demographic and transactional sources reveals distinct trends in buying patterns, interests and behaviours that characterise your target audience. For example, a company selling a cleaning product can use household purchase data to create parameters including:

• Customers who have never bought a cleaning spray

• Customers who haven’t bought any cleaning spray in the last 2 months

• Customers who regularly buy a competitor spray

• Customers living within a selected radius, close to a supermarket selling the product

These parameters, defined by up-to-date, location-based data, can help this business identify the best location for letterbox sampling, tied to a sale offer or promotion. Your business can find the right market and send out customised letterbox product samples that directly correlate with audience behaviour. This eliminates wasted spend on shoppers who would never have been interested in your products in the first place or are unlikely to switch from their current trusted brand.

It’s essential that your business stands out in the crowd and makes a great first impression. Consider distributing free samples with unique packaging or atypical sizing (smaller or larger than the standard product) to resonate. Targeting relevant, carefully considered markets will increase overall ROI and encourage an audience of loyal consumers.

Defying all the odds, print has evolved. Powered by new data capabilities, it’s become smarter, more authentic and more personal – so it’s essential that your business keeps up.